Tuscany Archives - Taste Vacations®

Discussing the Current State of Travel with Mindi Abair

By Taste Vacations, Wine No Comments

Last week, Allan Wright, Taste Vacations’ owner and president, had the pleasure of discussing the current and future state of travel with Mindi Abair, two-time Grammy nominee, saxophonist, singer, and fellow travel lover, and her husband, Eric Guerra, a wine industry veteran. Mindi and Eric own Reserve Tastings, a Wine + Music private wine membership that focuses on small-lot, luxury wines that are not available to the public.

Weren’t able to make the live event? No problem! Check out the recording below.

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Tuscany Off the Beaten Food Path

Tuscany: Off the Beaten Food Path

By Food No Comments

Tuscany has it all – beautiful scenery, delicious wine, and amazing cuisine. No wonder it’s one of the most popular destinations in the world for food and wine lovers alike.

A typical itinerary for a trip to Tuscany would include visiting the beautiful piazzas of Florence, eating as much gelato as possible, and drinking Italian wine at a cafe nestled in a small winding back street. This sounds like a truly enjoyable trip, but why not go a step beyond the normal tourist vacation? Tuscany has many unique experiences just waiting to be discovered by the intrepid foodie.

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Your New Favorite Wine

Your New Favorite Wine Is Waiting To Be Discovered

By Wine No Comments

We can all be creatures of habit in one aspect of our lives or another – including which wines we drink! When is the last time you chose a wine that wasn’t one of the old standards – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay?

It’s time to change things up a bit and try something new. After all, you never know if you’re about to meet your new favorite wine!  Let’s take a little journey through some iconic wine regions and find a few wines that you may not have tasted yet. First up, Tuscany!

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The History of Pesto recipe

The History of Pesto – Plus a No-fail, Easy Recipe

By Food, Taste Vacations No Comments

Pesto, also known as battuto Genovese, is a simple, yet superb sauce found in traditional Italian cuisine. The first written record of a pesto recipe dates back to the late 1800s, but is thought to have originated during the 16th century in Genoa, in Italy’s northern region. Traditionally, it is made up of crushed garlic, fresh basil, pine nuts, Parmesan Reggiano, and extra-virgin olive oil. The word pesto refers to how the sauce is authentically prepared with a mortar and pestle. Both pesto and pestle are derived from the word pestare which means to grind or crush.

Though pesto seems to have had a long history, moretum, the sauce that pesto is thought to have descended from, dates back to somewhere between 70 and 19 B.C. and was even described in a verse attributed to the great Roman poet, Virgil. Moretum was a green paste made of cheese, garlic, and herbs.

Today, one of the most popular uses for pesto is as a sauce for pasta, but it can also be used as a salad dressing, dip, or spread. Additionally, it is a delightful accompaniment to steak, poultry or fish.

Though we don’t go as far north as Genoa on our Tuscany Food & Wine Tour, we would highly recommend making an additional stop either before or after the tour to try what is sure to be the best pesto of your life. Or if you’re looking to try your hand at creating this exquisite sauce at home, our Alumni Ambassador and Tour Operations Manager, Kris, shares her no-fail, sure-to-please pesto recipe below:

Easy Pesto Recipe

  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups firmly packed fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan

Place all contents in a food processor and mix until well blended.  Taste and adjust to your liking.

Buon appetito!

Italy orchard

What Is Agritourism? A Tuscany Case Study

By Taste Vacations No Comments

Agritourism, also known as agrotourism, is any sort of offering that attracts tourists to a farm or ranch. And vineyards, just to be clear, are farms.

There are many examples of agritourism, ranging from visiting a pumpkin patch before Halloween to eating a farm-to-table dinner at a local farm. Many vineyards have tasting rooms and some vineyards and even farms – especially in places like Italy – have lodging as well.

We at Taste Vacations actually prefer the term “culinary tourism” because it encompasses more activities travelers actually do. For example, culinary tourism can include:

  • Traditional agritourism offerings getting people to a producer such as visiting an olive oil mill or a sheep’s cheese farm
  • Visiting a local farmer’s market to buy local products
  • Eating and drinking local by dining in restaurants known for having local products
  • Shopping local by visiting bakeries, butchers, or other retail outlets featuring local food and wine
  • Take a local food tour that stops at a number of local restaurants and often introduces you to the chefs
  • Take a cooking class when you travel

Only the first truly encompasses agritourism but all fall under the umbrella of culinary tourism.

It is entirely possible to be a culinary tourist traveling on your own. You can easily find restaurants featuring local produce, wineries, or even agricultural producers open to the public where you plan to travel.

However, for a truly amazing vacation steeped in culinary tourism, you might need to travel with a pro. Consider our Tuscany Food & Wine Tour, as just one example. Activities on the seven day tour include:

  • Lunch of local farm products and tasting of Chianti wines at the Fattoria Poggio Alloro farm
  • Learning about the butchery trade from butcher
  • Observing coffee roasting and barista training at a cafe in Arezzo
  • Truffle hunting and cooking class with famous agriculturist Augusto Verando Tocci
  • Demonstration of gelato making
  • Touring a local pecorino (sheep’s cheese) farm in Pienza followed by a picnic
  • Winery visits and tastings in both Tuscany and nearby Umbria

You can see that Culinary Tourism is a broad term that can include all sorts of fascinating local activities tied to an area’s food and wine. To experience this in person, join us in Tuscany!